The Transference of Telomeres to Offspring
"He has your eyes." "She grins the way you do." "Her telomeres resemble yours." One of those statements, more than likely, is not mentioned when comparing newborns to their biological parents. However, they all serve to be true. Find out how parental telomeres and offspring are connected and the opportunities it sparks for generations to come.
Telomeres and Offspring
Genetic makeup is determined by both maternal and paternal DNA, including eye color, facial structure, and skin pigment. And while such transmission is out of control, the transference of telomeres to offspring is, too. In fact, telomeres on the parents' chromosomes in the egg and sperm are directly transmitted to the developing baby, either being stable and long or relatively short. Telomere length is mostly dictated by multiple factors, including the stressors parents endured in life along with lifestyle choices mom made throughout her pregnancy, including diet and exercise. Such connections suggest if your parents lived hard lives that shortened their telomeres, they could have them passed down to you. And if offspring also endure such hardships, shortened telomeres can also be passed down to their future children. However, parents may be...
...passing down more than telomeres and genetics.
Parents can also pass down much more than shortened telomeres to their offspring, but transfer healthful or harmful habits. As obesity researcher George Bray has said, "Genes load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger." And when it comes to obesity, instilling beneficial habits in our youngest generation may be key in breaking the overwhelming obesity rates. And beyond the mental hardships they might encounter, childhood obesity has also shown to negatively impact health, including quadrupling their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, too, emotional feeding in young children has shown to lead to emotional eating later in life. Such factors and conditions stress the importance of dismissing poor lifestyle habits and choices. And with approximately 17 percent of U.S. children categorized as obese, breaking the cycle is expressively justified.
Breaking the Cycle
Before the birth of offspring, pediatrician Julia Getzelman of San Francisco suggests mom can "green the womb" by:
Preventing Negative Stress
Although life throws out stressful moments, learning how to deal with it and preventing negative stress is important for maternal and infant health. Mom should prioritize relationships as well as enjoying time for themselves, including prenatal yoga classes and taking walks.
Embracing a Colorful Diet
Consuming foods of all colors offers protective nutrients for the developing baby. Vital nutrients for the growing fetus include protein, vitamin D and B vitamins, including folate and B12, along with omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics.
Going organic is suggested to limit exposure to pesticides and chemicals in foods. Dr. Getzelman also recommends limiting farmed fish, artificial sweeteners, canned foods with BPA, and packaged foods with questionable additives.
Avoiding Chemical Exposures
Particularly at home, pregnant women are encouraged to avoid chemical exposures by wet-mopping frequently and using homemade cleaners. Heavily fragranced products, such as scented candles and perfumes, may also be filled with toxins.
Along with "greening the womb," cultivating a healthy atmosphere can nurture children's growth and futures. Healthy habits at home include preparing healthful foods at home, eating meals together at the dinner table, getting active as a family, and ensuring a safe and trusting environment. Instilling healthy habits within children can not only nourish their bodies, but transfer (hopeful) healthy telomeres to their future offspring, while embedding appropriate life choices can result in a positive legacy for generations to come.